Last Updated: 16-MAR-2016

March 2014 - Sea day - Cartagena, Columbia - Panama Canal, Panama

All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S100 12.1mp camera (orange date) or a Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera (white date)

For a detailed description of the Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera setup I am using, visit my Camera Page

Any video was shot with both cameras and converted with AWS Video Converter 8

Saturday - MAR 22 2014

At sea day as we were traveling the 464 nm between Willemstad (Curacao), Antilles to Cartagena, Colombia

Brown Booby - Sula leucogaster - flying right off our balcony as we are approaching the coast of South America

Flying fish - What the Brown Booby is going after

Wasabi at lunch. Very good! But, I never know if it's real or the type made with horseradish.

Humidity is increasing. A very hazy sunset

The critter of the night

Sunday - MAR 23 2014

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena de Indias, is a large city seaport on the northern coast of Colombia. Capital of the Bolívar Department, it has a population of 1,240,000 in its Metropolitan Area, and 1,090,000 in the city (2005 Census), being the fifth largest urban area in Colombia. Founded in 1533 by Spaniard Don Pedro de Heredia, and named after the port of Cartagena in Spain's Murcia region, it was a major center of early Spanish settlement in the Americas which had impressive development in the XVIII century as the de facto capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada and as the main hub of commerce and transportation in the late viceroyal era, situation that is reflected in its alternative capitality today.

Nowadays continues to be the economic hub of the Caribbean region as well as a popular tourist destination.

This was the first visit here by us and we were impressed. The security situation seemed ok. I was alert but had no feelings of any issues.

We booked a tour via internet before we got to Cartagena. Dora De Zubiria - Tours Having Dora as our guide was a very rewarding experience. She was on time, well organized and very professional. She was completely knowledgeable about Cartagena and its history. She was personable and made everyone feel comfortable. I would highly recommend her for a tour guide of this city as long as you don't buy any high dollar items at the stops she took us to (more on that). We saw as much as we possibly could in the time allotted us.

We had a couple mile drive to our first stop - Convento de la Popa, Cartagena (Cartagena de Indias) Parts of Cartagena looks just like Baltimore.

Cartagena alley cats...

So we arrived at this old church built on a high bluff over the city. (Below translated from Spanish)

The Cerro de La Popa is the highest city of Cartagena de Indias landform. The Spaniards who discovered it in 1510 imagined seeing a huge galley protruding from the sea, so they called Cerro de la Galera, and the top, "La Popa de la Galera". Subsequently, atop the old Cartagena, also called Cerro de la Cruz, is a beautiful colonial church and convent of the Order of Augustinian Recollects built between 1609 and 1611. The cloister of the convent of La Popa is one of the most beautiful in the colonial city of Cartagena and all Colombia.

It seems that in the years of the colony was at its peak one Clandestino shrine where Indians and African slaves worshiped a deity called "Buziriaco" or "Cabro Uri" which had the appearance of a goat. Legend has it that then Fray Alonso de la Cruz Paredes, religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, who was in the desert section Raquira (Boyaca), received in a dream the order of the Virgin Mary to erect a monastery on the site higher than a coastal city. That was how the monk traveled to Cartagena and the hill of the Popa conducted orderly mission. Upon arrival in the city took the goat Busiraco and threw it downhill. Since then the site is known as the Salto del bastard and his cult was replaced by that of the venerated image of the Virgin of Candelaria, a painting of colonial origin representing the virgin black and today's patron saint Cartagena de Indias.

It is believed that the construction of the church and convent of La Popa took much longer than anticipated by the continuous sabotage of Busiraco as thunder, lightning, rain and gales. In Colonial times and until the abolition of slavery era, black Africans established in the city and its surroundings were allowed to celebrate the festival of the Virgin of Candelaria, where they demonstrate their celebrations and where the musical rhythm of the cumbia emerged.

The Convent of the Popa ceased to be inhabited by the Augustinian Recollects from 1822-1963 due to the ordered confiscation by civil authorities. After that time, the monks were able to recover their convent that has always been the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Candelaria, patron saint of Cartagena, and his image, which is in the golden altarpiece of the chapel, is highly revered by the people of Catholic City and vicinity. Pope John Paul II the Virgin canonically crowned on Sunday July 6, 1986 in his Apostolic visit to Cartagena.

The ms Zuiderdam docked at Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena (Cartagena de Indias)

Looking out at the Skyscrapers and tourist neighborhood in Cartagena (Bocagrande)

Looking at the Saint Philip of Barajas Fortresses (Cartagena)

Walking around the church and convent

The votive offerings are altarpieces, memorial plaques or figures (sometimes gold) various materials, the faithful carry temples and shrines and places of pilgrimage in gratitude for spiritual or material benefit received from the Lord and / or through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints.

These are usually reserved on ceilings and walls of these places as witness to the miracles obtained from God for the faith of the faithful.

These demonstrations are forms of body parts healed, healed related disease (crutches, glasses), plates with words of thanks and elaborate or simple drawings of the situation suffered illness or difficulty circumvented by God's help objects. These by themselves, in its simplicity and in the nature of an image (who speaks a thousand words) graphically demonstrate to others the powerful intervention of the living God.

Looking off to the east at cienaga de la virgen (virgin swamp)

Basurto Market (Cartagena) - Here is the farmers market in which you will find anything plus is a point where numerous buses stop or pass by.

Mary looking off the edge

Interesting how the have the razor wire on the hill. They must have some trespassing issues on the cliffs

Wow. Critical Infrastructure.... A bunch of towers up here on the hill.

Cats of Cerro de La Popa

I think we have a similar type of insect in the Mid-Atlantic

Again, some Baltimore street views on our way to the fort

Our second stop was at Looking at the Saint Philip of Barajas Fortresses (Cartagena)

The Castillo San Felipe de Barajas is a fortress in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. The castle is located on the Hill of San Lazaro in a strategic location, dominating approaches to the city by land or sea. It was built by the Spanish during the colonial era. Construction began in the year 1536, and it was originally known as the Castillo de San Lazaro, It was expanded in 1657.

The fortification consists of a series of walls, wide at the base and narrow toward the parapet, forming a formidable pattern of bunkers. The batteries and parapets protect one another, so making it practically impossible to take a battery without taking the whole defense system. The stone blocks used to build the castle were said to be splattered with the blood of slaves. Cartagena was a port of the black slave trade. The guns of the castle commanded the whole bay, so that any suspicious vessel attempting to dock could be attacked.

The castle is striking for its grand entrance and its complex maze of tunnels. It is the most formidable defensive complex of Spanish military architecture.

In 1984, UNESCO listed the castle, with the historic center of the city of Cartagena, as a World Heritage Site. Since 1990, the castle has served as a location for social and cultural events offered by the Colombian government in honor of foreign delegations at presidential summits, ministerial meetings, the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (1995) and the Summit of the Rio Group (2000) among others.

The castle is open to visitors.

Views as we approached it from behind

We got off the bus but only for a few minutes. The tour did not allow us to walk up to the fort. I figure for a couple of reasons. First this area may not be safe.. and second, I doubt most people on the cruise would have the physical abilities to walk up onto this structure. In any case, I was happy to get a look at it.

The next stop was to the walled area of San Diego (Cartagena de Indias) - Las Bovedas (Cartagena de Indias)

Are among the strong Santa Clara and Santa Catalina. Las Bovedas has 47 arches and 23 vaults. Had military use during colonial and Independence served in prison. After restoration work this area now has crafts and antiques shops, bars and galleries. (Translated from Spanish)

It was interesting that we were to tell the store owners that we were with Dora. I don't think it was for a better price.. It was so Dora would get her slice. Got some cheap coins for friends and some candy here.

We went up top to check out the views of the coast

Looking up at the Cerro de La Popa where we were an hour ago

Tourist carriages

Old cannons

So our next place to tour was Downtown Cartagena (Ciudad Vieja - Old City) (Cartagena)

Old city of Cartagena. Here you find the most shops, tourism, the world famous antique walls, and classical residencies. People from many countries around the world visit every year this beautiful area, the heart of what is called the 'Pearl of the Caribbean'. A must visit!

Lots to see here. Very clean, well-kept and had no security issues.

Interesting.. These guys were painted black and you could pose with them (for a price)

Various views as we walked along

A very fat woman in Plaza de Santo Domingo, Cartagena (Cartagena de Indias)

It owes the name to the Church Santo Domingo, located on one of its corners. - It is said that when the church tower was almost finished the devil in person tried to make it collapse by jumping on to it, holding it and shaking it vigorously without being able to carry out its vile assignment. Though the tower was left a bit crooked, or so it is said. Anyway, the frustrated Devil jumped into a nearby public well leaving the waters with a strong sulfur taste and the well was immediately closed.

We went into a cool plaza to use the restroom. So many plazas here I am not sure which one it is.

Narrow streets

Plaza de Bolivar, Cartagena (Cartagena de Indias)

Cool sundial on the wall - You can see the line coming down on the 10 - Looks to be accurate too

Where the pope stood back in 1986

Cool door clapper

Plaza De La Aduana - This is the largest and oldest square in the old town and was used as a parade ground. In colonial times, all the important governmental and administrative buildings were here. The old Royal Customs House was restored and is now the City Hall. A statue of Christopher Columbus stands in the center of the square.

We visited Claustro E Iglesia De San Pedro - The temple is part of a set of religious buildings that complements the Cloister of San Pedro Claver and the archaeological museum. It was built between 1580 and 1654, under the parameters of the colonial buildings. It was originally known as Church of San Juan de Dios, from 1622 it was called church of San Ignacio de Loyola and now called San Pedro Claver. (translated from Spanish)

Next to the church they had a small art museum and some gardens.

They had some local's performing here for money. I was taking a photo of the parrot and one of the women must have figured I was taking her photo and wanted money. So she posed for me as I gave her a buck... Not good..

The busses were near hotel Charleston so we all met at a area along the fort wall. Again impressed at how clean it is here.

Walked up on the fort wall

Ken found a new friend

Nice peg for a leg

Good place to sleep on the sidewalk

So we headed out to the Skyscrapers and tourist neighborhood in Bocagrande (Cartagena)

The famous Secret Service hooker hotel - Hotel Caribe

So, Dora took us to a couple of small shops out on Bocagrande. One thing that was sad is that a guy had a sloth that the tourists could pose with. But, we were told that it was illegal. So, out where you could easily see he had a stuffed sloth sitting on the steps. You can see the real one climbing on the bars on the door.

Excellent beer... Then again it was 90 degrees and the beer was very cold !

So here one of the stores that "Dora the explorer" endorsed was Green Fire S.A.S where they sold emeralds raw and finished. The address is: Parque Comercial Pierino Gallo. L. 2-1 El Laguito, Cartagena, Colombia.

Well, as you have seen from my pages I am into rocks and such so I wanted a RAW emerald.

So, I picked one out... They said it was 150 ct... Then DISCOUNTED it to 100 ct... As you can see on the slip below.

Well, I paid $100 US. Yes, again - $100 US

So, I get home and put it on my scale WHICH I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN WITH ME and that's funny how 150 ct is now 35.80 ct - Sad how the cruise made it weigh less

Its RAW.. Not like it was reduce from the RAW stone. Yes, I got what I wanted.. It's cool.. and hope it's a blood emerald but it,s very obvious that Green Fire Emeralds is ripping people off. They have a web page so someday I may suggest that they look at my page. Also, I would assume "Dora the Explorer" is part of this. Oh well will travel with the scale in the future.

I need to dollar cost my emerald !

Compared to a quarter

This gets better.. Searching RAW or ROUGH emerald on the web I can find 453.05 ct. stones for US $2.25. Yes, under 3 dollars.. So, this was a scam !

Found this on eBay

Mary may start a war with Colombia over this as she is pissed !

Dora's bus

My buddy... El Patron - Pablo Escobar on a tee shirt - Known as "The King of Cocaine", he is regarded as the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated net-worth of US$30 billion by the early 1990s.

Nice to see diesel cheap

No wonder they are not doing well with FARC ( Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army) as these guys have paintball guns and hoods with ears

Back near the ship they had a nature area.

Some sort of hawk

Toucan - Impressed with the clarity of the Canon EOS-70D 20.2mp camera. The Toucan was appx. 10 feet away.

Sleeping parrot



Bigger parrot

Ugly bird

Business end of a dredge

Very scenic walking back to the ship

We were sharing the dock with Vision of the Seas - operated by Royal Caribbean International,

Looking at Cerro de La Popa from the ship in port

Looking around the port of Cartagena, Colombia

One heck of a crane

Old structures along the way (Fuerte de Manzanillo (Cartagena de Indias))

PO - 114 - ARC Juan Nepomuceno Eslava - Colombian Coast Guard

Castillo Grande Lighthouse located in Cartagena

Looking at the beaches along Barrio en Cartagena.

Interesting statue and would hate to hit it at night

Looks like we are being filmed

Crowd watching the Cartagena departure

Immature frigate bird

Old fort - Unica entrance to Cartagena by sea

Beach by the Township of Bocachica

Terns of some type

I think this resort has seen better days

Brown Booby - Sula leucogaster - Plunge-dives from various heights up to 15 m (50 feet). Folds wings next to body at beginning of dive, then thrusts wings straight out over back, touching in the middle, just before breaking the surface. Dive may reach just below surface, or to as much as 2 m (6 feet) deep. Commonly feeds in areas where large predatory fish such as tuna drive smaller fish to the surface. Also follows fishing vessels.

You can see the flying fish about four feet in front of the Booby

Flying fish - can be seen jumping out of warm ocean waters worldwide. Their streamlined torpedo shape helps them gather enough underwater speed to break the surface, and their large, wing-like pectoral fins get them airborne. Flying fish are thought to have evolved this remarkable gliding ability to escape predators, of which they have many. Their pursuers include mackerel, tuna, swordfish, marlin, and other larger fish. For their sustenance, flying fish feed on a variety of foods, including plankton. The process of taking flight, or gliding, begins by gaining great velocity underwater, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Angling upward, the four-winged flying fish breaks the surface and begins to taxi by rapidly beating its tail while it is still beneath the surface. It then takes to the air, sometimes reaching heights over 4 feet (1.2 meters) and gliding long distances, up to 655 feet (200 meters). Once it nears the surface again, it can flap its tail and taxi without fully returning to the water. Capable of continuing its flight in such a manner, flying fish have been recorded stretching out their flights with consecutive glides spanning distances up to 1,312 feet (400 meters).

Temp - 84, Humidity - 80%, Heat index - 94 degrees I like...

Mary likes desserts !

Cool critter tonight

Monday - MAR 24 2014

Panama & Panama Canal

We arrived at the Panama Canal around 6am. This was the main destination of this cruise because this was the centennial anniversary of the canal as it opened on August 15, 1914. We both have been here before on cruises and I was here for work many years ago but this was the first time we were going to actually travel in the canal. We were looking forward to this and the weather was excellent.

We arrived around 6 am to start the process. Very interesting but the process is very slow.

Looking at the ships lined up.

The new canal with all the cranes and lock doors.

The navigation lights

We were behind a windjammer type sail-boat and then two large ships - one on the left was a fuel tanker and the one on the right was a large container ship. It appeared that they were not letting us get anywhere near the tanker.

The container ship is exiting the right locks

Strange.. The lower locks is now a bridge and a number of vehicles are crossing.

Now the sailboat is entering the left lock

Female frigatebird - Frigatebirds are the only seabirds where the male and female look strikingly different. The males have a red gular pouch that is inflated during the breeding season to attract a mate. The breeding period of the Magnificent Frigatebird is exceptionally long and young fledglings are often still being fed by the female at one year of age. The male Magnificent Frigatebird abandons its mate and half-grown chick and leaves the breeding colony, presumably to molt and return for another breeding attempt with a different mate. The female cares for the young for over a year. This difference in parental care allows the male to breed each year while the female breeds only every other year.

Approaching our first lock. The Panama Canal Towing Locomotives (also called mules) are lined up to attach a line to our ship on both sides to pull it thru.

The arrow is cool to show which lock the ships is supposed to go into.

The fuel tanker is exiting the last lock.

The sailboat has four mules attached to guide it thru the locks.

A close-up of a Panama Canal Towing Locomotives (mule)

From the outset, it was considered an important safety feature that ships be guided through the lock chambers by electric locomotives, known as mulas (mules, named after the animals traditionally used to cross the isthmus of Panama), running on the lock walls. These mules are used for side-to-side and braking control in the locks, which are narrow relative to modern-day ships. Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship's engines and not the mules. A ship approaching the locks first pulls up to the guide wall, which is an extension of the center wall of the locks, where it is taken under control by the mules on the wall before proceeding into the lock. As it moves forward, additional lines are taken to mules on the other wall. With large ships, there are two mules on each side at the bow, and two each side at the stern-eight in total, allowing for precise control of the ship.
The mules themselves run on rack tracks with broad gauge, 5 ft, to which they are geared. Traction is by electric power, supplied through a third rail laid below surface level on the land side. Each mule has a powerful winch, operated by the driver; these are used to take two cables in or pay them out in order to keep the ship centered in the lock while moving it from chamber to chamber. With as little as 2 ft (60 cm) of clearance on each side of a ship, considerable skill is required on the part of the operators.

We had some people from the photo sales taking photos of our ship going thru the locks. Interesting they had a security guard with them.

We stood in this area back in March of 2005 watching the ships pass thru the locks.

More mule / photographers. You can see the geared track that these ride on.

Looking back. A tanker is coming in behind us with a one empty lock between us. Its the Torm Anne - Oil products Tanker. A container ship is behind that and looks like it will come in the same side that we are on as the arrow is point to our side.

Further along - Various views and very humid.

Filled right to the top - Each lock chamber requires 26,700,000 US gal (101,000 m3) of water to fill it from the lowered to the raised position; the same amount of water must be drained from the chamber to lower it again. Embedded in the side and center walls are three large water culverts that are used to carry water from the lake into the chambers to raise them, and from each chamber down to the next, or to the sea, to lower them. These culverts start at a diameter of 22 ft (6.71 m) and reduce to 18 ft (5.49 m) in diameter, large enough to accommodate a train. Cross culverts branch off from these main culverts, running under the lock chambers to openings in the floors. There are fourteen cross culverts in each chamber, each with five openings; seven cross culverts from the sidewall main culverts alternate with seven from the center wall culvert. The water is moved by gravity and is controlled by huge valves in the culverts. Each cross culvert is independently controlled. A lock chamber can be filled in as little as eight minutes. There is significant turbulence in the lock chamber during this process.

One of the marker light houses

Construction area. Cool that they have cranes that ride on the mule tracks

Workers playing a game of some sort ?

Our position on the ship computer systems

Leaving the last lock and entering Gatun Lake - a large artificial lake to the south of Colon, Panama. It forms a major part of the Panama Canal, carrying ships for 33 km (21 mi) of their transit across the Isthmus of Panama. The lake was created between 1907 and 1913 by the building of the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River. At the time it was created, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world. Gatun Dam was also the largest of its kind.

Large tug boats with firefighting capability were escorting the ships into and out of the locks

You can see the top of Gatun Dam across the Chagres River in Panama, near the town of Gatun. The dam, constructed between 1907 and 1913, is a crucial element of the Panama Canal; it impounds the artificial Gatun Lake, which in turn carries ships across the Isthmus of Panama. In addition, a hydro-electric generating station at the dam generates electricity which is used to operate the locks and other equipment in the canal.

Ships waiting Gatun Lake to go thru the locks.

Because you could not get off the ship in Gatun Lake unless you take a ship sponsored tour we signed up for the Authentic Embera Indian Village - 6.5 hrs Description - Journey into the lives of the Embera native tribe. Experience an indian village and delve into the lives of Panama's native inhabitants. Take a bus (LONG) ride to a canoe landing and motorized dug-out canoe ride to the village. Enjoy the dances to add to this cultural exchange. Wander through the village and interact with these quiet people. Beautiful items available for purchase - This was the write-up... Of course you can spend your money !

We paid $109.95 each for this trip.

So, we tendered off the ship and waited for the bus at a dock area near where the new canal was going to connect to the lake in the near future. (9.261319N, 79.915034W)

We started our LONG BUS ride to the Authentic Embera Indian Village

We had to cross the new lock construction area

Some areas are very scenic. Panama is on our short list of places to relocate to as the US goes to hell. Although we want to be up a bit higher to be in a better temperature range like Boquete, Chiriqui - about 60 kilometers from the border with Costa Rica.

Kids in their school uniforms

Our ride just kept going... At this point we were better than 1/2 way across Panama. We went by a large cement production facility located near Caimitillo, Panama at (09 10'2.65"N, 79 32'24.99"W)

The first suggesting that we were going to a natural area. Parque Nationa Chagres

Very scenic in this National Park

So we get to a Chagres River landing area located at: Chagres River (09 13'21.66"N 79 32'47.23"W)
I get very concerned that we were going to get wet and I was not alone. We had a number of the older cruise people that wanted to return to the ship at this point out of concern of the small canoes capsizing on this trip.

They tried to get as many people as they could sitting 2 across taking no consideration of balance / weight and the ability of the older crowd to walk across the seats to the back of the narrow boats. I refused to sit 2 across and got in the back of the boat so people would not track mud on my seat.

We went thru large areas of floating vegetation on the river. They had to keep stopping to clean off the props on the canoes

Really packed in!

We traveled up the Chagres River appx. 1.5 miles to a small village located at: (09 13'50.79"N 79 32'0.56"W)
Getting off the boat was just as much fun as getting on as I was amazed that nobody fell in.
Some of the village people were here to great us.

You had to walk up a hill to the village

We had lunch here that consisted of some type of fish wrapped in a palm leaf served to you in the 90+ degree heat. I passed... Mary lived

Lunch was served in a large hut that they did various dances in

The village dogs hoped for a handout

While this all was going on, Mary and I walked around the village to see what types of plants & critters I could find. I was surprised that we did not find anything exciting.

Mangoes may very well be the king of all fruits. They fight cancer, alkalize the body, aid in weight loss, regulate diabetes, help digestion, clean your skin, and make the perfect snack

For some reason she is not taking the log bridge

The Blue-gray Tanager is one of the most widespread, and ubiquitous, birds of the humid lowland neotropics. At almost any location between southeastern Mexico and central South America, it is a familiar presence at forest edge, in second-growth, along roads and rivers, in plantations, and even in urban parks and gardens.


So we ventured up into the area away from the tourist areas. A bit rustic and I was very happy not to eat or drink anything form here!

As we got ready to leave they all lined up to say goodbye.

Happy place

Not sure what goes on here after we all leave

A bit of a leak and ken needed gum !

Various views as we went the 1.5 miles back to where the buses are

Another village along the river

Looks like the cement factory is allowing some of its product to make it to the river

Ken is his small life jacket

Looking up, across and down the Chagres River

Nice views along the way

We got delayed on the way back by a container train on the Panama Canal Railway Company

Funny the NSA equipment is labeled here

We picked up two items at the village. Ken got a small Tagua carved armadillo. The tagua palm is a small understory tree of 20 to 30 feet that grows in damp areas of moist tropical forests from Panama to Peru. There are several species of tagua palms and they often grow in colonies to the exclusion of other vegetation. The tagua nuts grow in large armored clusters with each cluster containing many egg sized nuts. The nuts are at first of a jelly like consistency and edible but eventually harden to resemble animal ivory. Tagua nuts are eaten by forest animals such as agoutis, squirrels and pacas. Tagua and Animal Ivory. Because of its close resemblance to animal ivory the nut of the tagua palm has had a long history as a useful product . Before the invention of plastics tagua was used in the making of buttons and other common items such as jewelry, dice, chess pieces and cane handles. In fact, some expensive "ivory" pieces from the Victorian era were actually made from tagua nuts.

Tagua carvings generally depict the animals of the rainforest home of the Wounaan and Embera.

Mary picked out a small basket. I am not a basket person but I am impressed with the quality and sturdiness of the item.

Although Wounaan and Embera women know a variety of basket making techniques, they are best known for their elegant and artistic coiled baskets. Coiling is defined by Virginia Harvey in the Techniques of Basketry as: the technique of stitching over a foundation and attaching rows of work together as the stitching progresses to form the basketry structure. The two elements used are the foundation, or core, and the sewing material. The foundation forms the base over which the stitching is done, and the stability of this element holds the shape of the work. Successive wraps over the foundation are made with the sewing material which fastens back into or around one or more of the foundations or catches into the stitches of the former row to hold the work together.

Each basket can take months, or even years, to complete and reflect an impressive range of colors, stemming from the natural hues of local seeds, roots, berries, fruits, flowers, leaves and other native flora.

Once the palm fibers have been obtained they must be processed. First, the palm fibers are dried and bleached in the sun and split to appropriate thickness. The chunga fiber used for the sewing material is then colored with natural plant dyes. (Please note: These are not store bought dyes!) Decorative baskets require fibers of many colors and the Wounaan and Embera artisans are continually developing new vibrant colors from rainforest plants. Some women have gardens of dye plants while others must search in the forest for leaves, roots, bark and other materials to color the palm fibers. Urban women buy fibers that have already been processed back in the Darien villages and are ready to be made into baskets. Fiber processing is time consuming and requires a great deal of skill and knowledge as well as access to a variety of dye plants and space to carry out the procedures.

The visit to the village was interesting although I did not like the risk that the canoes posed to my camera equipment. It's funny that the photos of this place on the web had a good bit of nudity yet we did not see any of that. I think I would have got a great deal more out of my day if I would have taken the cross Panama train ride excursion vs. this village trip. Will do that trip on the next visit to Panama.

Looking north west over Colon at the ships waiting to enter the canal

Looking across at Manzanillo International Terminal, one of the largest container terminals in South America. This use to be the site of US Naval Station Coco Solo until 1999.

Mary with Colon in the background.

McDonalds on the main drag in Colon

This fly was planning its next move... Tropical Panama... It could be carrying some really nasty stuff.

Cruise ship exiting the canal and heading east towards the Caribbean.

A very humid sunset

The great kiskadee eats insects like beetles, wasps, grasshoppers, bees and moths. Despite the fact that it is a flycatcher, it also eats berries, seeds, mice, frogs, fish and lizards. It also will dive straight into the water to catch fish.

We were supposed to leave at 18:00 but the Panama railroad excursion people did not get back till after 18:30. Just another example on how its best to go on ship sponsored trips that could be late as the ship will always wait. Sunset Colón, Panama looks much better at night

I wanted to buy a new watch and the cruise ships are a great place to buy. Also, I was looking each night and comparing prices on the web and was finding that the prices were not bad considering no TAX and no shipping. I liked the watches that you could see the inner workings. One night I was looking at this one "Perpetual Watch Model 120" By Theo Faberge. Well, I tried it on and the price was around $32,000 US. A bit above me $1,000 price limit.. Still, it was a cool watch and they only made 25 for the world. In the end I bought a Reactor Gryphon for under $400 and after many months of use it still looks brand new.

Tonight’s critter

  • On to part 3 -- Puerto Limon, Costa Rica - Sea days - Florida

  • Panama Canal Sunfarer cruise with Holland America - March 2014